Urban Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Bearer of Goods and Risks. PLoS Medicine, July 2014.
Authors: Fahad Raza, et al.
Sub-Saharan Africa remains the least urbanized region of the world and more than 60% of the population, 570 million people, still live in rural areas . Over the next few decades Africa will be one of the most rapidly urbanizing regions , and with this transition is an expected rise in cardiovascular risk factors and disease (CVD) . Across sub-Saharan Africa, many adults migrate back and forth from rural home communities to more urban areas for work and education; others have moved to urban areas; and in still other cases, rural communities themselves have urbanized.
In this issue of PLOS Medicine, a study by Riha and colleagues is directly concerned with the latter scenario within the context of urbanizing rural Uganda . As the authors aptly note, the crude dichotomy of urban-rural difference obscures the changes occurring within rural regions themselves, as characteristics of urban environments, defined as urbanicity , become more prominent. Urbanization is a complex worldwide phenomenon and challenges global populations to re-calibrate a set of far reaching behaviors as the meaning of communities change, networks widen, and globalization influences attitudes and access to new resources. Some of these phenomena are likely to be health promoting, while others expose formerly rural populations to new risks.